Microsoft: Internet Freedom and Privacy at the Heart of What We Do

According to Craig Mundie

Microsoft applauded the position expressed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as the new U.S. policy to advocate principles of freedom and openness for the Internet around the globe. Support was voiced by Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft, and one of the men that replaced Bill Gates at the head of the company together with Ray Ozzie who is now chief software architect.

“We are urging U.S. media companies to take a proactive role in challenging foreign governments’ demands for censorship and surveillance. The private sector has a shared responsibility to help safeguard free expression. And when their business dealings threaten to undermine this freedom, they need to consider what’s right, not simply what’s a quick profit,” Clinton stated.

Mundie noted in a post on the Microsoft on the Issues blog that the Redmond company, together with Google, Yahoo!, as well as human rights organizations, members of the academia, and investors have joined together and formed the Global Network Initiative. The very purpose of the GNI is to help protect freedom of expression and privacy worldwide. Mundie emphasized that in Microsoft’s vision of online freedom needs to be a global status quo rather than available only to privileged people in certain markets.

“We very much welcome Secretary Clinton’s remarks and applaud the heightened attention she’s brought to the important issues of free expression and privacy. These issues are at the heart of what we do to help people and organizations use technology to reach their full potential. In particular, we agree with Secretary Clinton that both governments and the private sector have important roles to play. We also agree that the issues of Internet freedom and economic development are critical and interrelated,” Mundie said.

The software giant’s chief research and strategy officer underlined that Internet freedom needs to not only insure free access to information, privacy, as well as support the free exercise of universal rights, but also to close the “digital divide.” Through initiatives such as Microsoft Unlimited Potential programs, the company works to bring information technology to as many of the world’s nearly 7 billion people as possible.

“Bringing all the capabilities of the Internet to those markets requires the engagement of US and other foreign firms. We agree that it should be part of the Internet Freedom agenda to foster domestic technology and economic development. We also agree it is most often good policy to support engagement by foreign companies, even in countries where freedom of expression is at risk. Unquestionably, the US government should continue to promote the benefits that fair competition and open trade policies bring to these societies,” Mundie stated.

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